Even in a world with 4G networks and superfast speeds, there will be times when you simply cannot get a signal on your phone, or aren’t allowed to have it online. Travelling on an underground train or using airplane mode while you’re way up in the sky certainly limit what you can do with your handset.
However, while smartphones may ostensibly exist to make calls, they now perform so many other functions that there is plenty you can do with them when you can’t connect to your network.
In the past, portable music was often carried with us, like the old tape and CD Walkmans that many of us fondly remember. However, with so much music now being streamed online, it’s easy to forget that you can simply download a lot of it to your handset.
With a subscription, Spotify allows users to store tracks for offline play through its mobile app, and most platforms have native music players that help you to move tracks to your device.
Podcasts can also be downloaded for offline use, and there are several apps that allow you to save tracks from cloud storage services like Dropbox, to your smartphone. All these methods are also useful if you have a connection but don’t want to use up your mobile data by constantly streaming music.
If you ever find yourself without a signal it could be because you’re lost in the middle of nowhere and need to find your way back home. In this case, having a set of maps stored offline on your handset will be handy, and many map apps now let you do just that.
While your handset may not be able to connect to a network, it’s likely that your GPS will work pretty much anywhere, so you can use offline maps to pinpoint your location. Many sat nav apps store map data offline, so they’ll still work in rural areas with poor coverage.
You’ll probably have to take a look at the settings of your favourite map app to see if it allows you to store them offline, and while this will take up some space on your device’s internal storage it could be invaluable if you find yourself lost.
Using your smartphone as an eReader is one of the simplest and most enjoyable things you can do with it, and it can be easier to get really involved in a book when you don’t have the constant distractions that online life entails.
The Kindle reading app is one of the best service’s for diving into your favourite novels and short stories, along with others such as Bluefire Reader. Audiobooks are also popular amongst smartphone users, with Audible’s app being an excellent vehicle for them.
As for other web content, you could build up a collection of articles and stories that you find online in an app such as Pocket, which will present them in an easy-to-read format and store them offline.
Most smartphones have several ways of storing videos, allowing you to turn the device into a mobile, miniature cinema screen. However, apps like the BBC iPlayer now allows users to download episodes of TV programmes to their mobiles, so they never have to miss out on their favourite shows.
Along with the capabilities we’ve mentioned above, there are literally thousands of apps that allows you to store information, take and edit photos and play games without needing a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. If you’re ever unsure as to whether your favourite app works offline, just switch your handset to Airplane Mode and see what happens.